1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

The 2-mix buss/console question?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by erockerboy, Mar 16, 2001.

  1. erockerboy

    erockerboy Member

    Originally posted by David Goodermuth on another thread:

    "It has been my experience that the 2-bus is a weak point in a lot of analog consoles, as well as the daw $*^t. The SSL E's and G's 2-bus totally sucked. Most quality studios using SSL's bypassed the factory 2-bus either with on-board mods, or outboard faders. The "J" seems to be better, but most of the daw's do indeed blow."

    I'm hoping some of you grizzled pros can elaborate on this. What makes for a "superior" 2-bus? I'm fixing to drop some fairly serious dough on a studio upgrade, in particular a mid-to-big scale analog console... and I need to know what I should be looking for.

    I'm currently running MOTU and ProTools hardware straight into a pair of Yamaha O2R's. The O2R's are gonna be gone. I'll end up getting a rackful of nice D/A ('nother topic there), a stack of cool analog outboard, and SOMETHING to mix it all together. The question is what?

    Here's what's important to me:

    * a 2-bus that is dead quiet and has sufficient dynamic range to sum 24-32 trax of 24-bit digital.

    * adequate QUALITY I/O for interfacing comp's and EQ's, be it on channel inserts or on buses.

    * knobs and faders that feel good.

    * and please let it sound absolutely shreddin'.

    Here's what's NOT important to me:

    * per-channel dynamics. (Am gonna be buying some nice outboard stuff piecemeal to cover this.)

    * inboard mic pre's. (Again, outboard here.)

    * fader automation. (I am gonna hate giving this up, but moving faders are bucks, and I hate VCA's.)

    * a "Big Name" draw. (if it sounds awesome, I don't care if it says "SSL" on the box or not)


    So basically I need a console that's heavy on sound, and light on bells-n-whistles. I've heard good stuff about Oram and D&R in the $30-50K range. What about the Trident re-issue? A used API?

    The other thing I would look at (more $$$), is the Euphonix. Lotta dough, but that total recall thing is the balls. And they sound pretty good too IMO.

    I would love to hear from you guys as to any console recommendations... in particular, what makes a 2-bus sound good. Thanks in advance.

    -e
     
  2. Well firstly the Trident is a lot of things but not quiet. (Personally I love em but wouldn't want to be forced to use their sound on an entire mix)

    Have you looked at Audient. They should cost about $30-35k (ish) over there for a basic (no auto/dynamics) 36 channel in-line. They're very clean sounding, so if you want the desk to have a strong sound then it's not for you. Alternatively, if you want to use different outboard to add different sounds to each track whilst adding as little colour as possible from the desk then it's certainly worth a listen/look.

    Ergonomically it couldn't be better. It's the easiest console to use/look at that I've ever seen.

    I/O and dynamic range is great and easily drives our 24bit DAW (Soundscape R.Ed). Inserts are ground comp out/fully balanced in so it'll connect to anything.

    The metering is also great and matches our DAW really well.

    EQ - whilst lacking in any positive character, is very usable and we only use outboard eq (CLM/Trident) for vocals or extreme effects.

    I know you're not too concerned about pre-amps but....Recently we tested a load of channel strips (Amek/Focusrite etc) and whilst we didn't choose a strip (opted for seperate pre amp/comp/eq instead) it did show up exactly how good the pre-amps in the Audient were.

    A final point - when looking at desks, we had a checklist of features that the desk should have with a score rating for each item. The Audient was the onely desk (for our price range) that scored a hit on every point.
     
  3. hollywood_steve

    hollywood_steve Active Member

    Just to keeps things open minded, I've got one comment about the Audient console. Like thousands of others, the first time I got to take a long look at one was at last fall's AES show in LA. I could be mistaken (because I looked at a LOT of gear that weekend), but I remember being surprised that the Audient did NOT have individual channel strips. That certainly does not affect the sound or function of the console, but I was surprised to see that feature missing in a console competing at that level. As more and more digital consoles come on the market, people may get used to seeing boards without modular construction, because it doesn't really apply to digital equipment. But I couldn't imagine paying $30k for an analog console that doesn't offer that extremely useful maintenance feature. If I remember correctly, the Audient is constructed similarly to the MTA 924 in that the channel strips are built in groups of either 4 or 8 channels. I really should have checked those two websites to confirm this before posting, but that's what I recall. I guess that's one feature that means more to some people than to others.

    steve
     
  4. Steve -
    That's not strictly true. Although the channels on the Audient are not divided into strips, they are grouped into banks of 12 functions (e.g. 12 faders, 12 pans, 12-bus selects etc.) . This is similar to having individual strips - it's just that the strips run across the board and not down. Therefore if a fader breaks, that bank of 12 faders only is replaced instead of an entire channel strip (and certainly not a group of 4-8 channels).
    This actually makes for easier and cheaper maintenance if something needs replacing (and is one of their many selling points).
    -Peter
     
  5. hollywood_steve

    hollywood_steve Active Member

    Maybe I'm not understanding this correctly. But I know that I would rather lose one complete channel than all the faders across 12 channels, or all of the eq across 12 channels, etc. I have on a few occasions lost one channel and carried on quite nicely without that one channel. But if I lost 12 channel faders, I'd be screwed until a replacement arrived or it was repaired. Am I getting this right? Is there anyone who wouldn't rather give up one complete channel than have 12 channels basically shut down? If I've got this wrong, please explain.

    Steve
     
  6. Why would you lose all 12 faders ? If a single fader breaks (or eq, pan etc) then that's ALL that breaks . They are joined together so that they can be lifted out in one piece. But just because one part of the bank fails doesn't mean you lose the entire section.

    The only downside is you can't send a bank away for repair without losing 12 channels but would you do that anyway ?
     
  7. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Hi EJolson,

    I can see that you are not too keen on DAWs. However, you also mentioned a budget of $30-50K. IMHO, you are not going to find anything in this price range to compare with the quality of say a properly clocked PTools/ProControl system with top class converters and a rack of quality outboard gear.

    Now, I'm not an digital guy who is anti-analog. I feel that the best quality analog is still a fair bit better than the best quality DAW. If your budget could reach to a used Neve, I wouldn't hesitate. But the best quality DAW is IMHO, better than the equivalent priced mediocre analog. I used to use Logic + PTools hardware + O2R and faced the same decision you are facing about 2 years ago. I have to say that loading up a PTools system is a completely different ball game as far as quality of sound is concerned compared to PTools hardware and an O2R, which I found was seriously harsh, even if you bypass the O2R's onboard Pre's, A/D conversion, EQ and Dynamics!

    If you can afford a used Euphonix then IMHO your decision becomes much harder.

    My 0.02 cents,

    Greg
     
  8. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    So what does it mean that it should "sound absoulutely shreddin'"? As in, "oh my god, it sounds like a wire with gain and sums!" or does that mean it adds nice color to the sound? Anyway, here's a few more choices I know about.

    I think the Amek Media 51 starts around $49k. Not sure whether it's just an improved B.I.G., which would mean to many a polished turd, or whether it's a baby 9098i. It's VCA, but the VCA's aren't supposed to audibly affect the sound from one magazine review I read, though I'm not sure I trust the review. It definitely has some automation horsepower, and the channel inputs and pres benefit from Rupert Neve design. May be worth investigating. I'd be more sold if I knew the busing went through a major redesign, too, though I'm not sure if that was the big problem to start with on the B.I.G.

    You can definitely get a used Neotek in your price range, likely even an Elite, and they're really nice big sounding boards with nice color for rock and roll. Probably not as colored as an API or Trident, maybe a little more neutral. In your budget range, you could maybe even get one with motorised fader automation.

    The D&R stuff has the reputation of being very clean and transparent. Nice equipment, but maybe doesn't get it's fair appreciation because it isn't colored and exciting. Very exciting, though, when you don't want added coloration.

    If you just want awesome old school analog sound, you could wait and drool over the promised Daking consoles like me. At least I don't think the 24*8*2 configuration is out yet, which would list at $40k or $45k I think. Gotta figure out a business plan to open a profitable studio in town so I can afford to work on somthing like this.

    da Bear
     
  9. erockerboy

    erockerboy Member

    Hi guys, thanks for the response...

    I can see that you are not too keen on DAWs.

    Just to clarify... I am actually a *big* DAW fan. I know there are some pure analog zealots who won't touch anything with a microprocessor in it, but I'm not one of 'em. In fact I used to be a "once-digital-stay-digital" kinda guy.... my shop had a bunch of O2R's linked together, and then we got into ProControl when it came out. Mind you, I never got a chance to cut my teeth on a nice 2"-into-SSL kinda rig. So when the O2R came out, and I suddenly had access to an 80-track moving fader all-digi board with dynamics on every channel (you know the drill) ...well, I just about wet myself. And I think, having that kind of control over EVERY ELEMENT of my mixes forced me to stop making excuses for what was wrong, and start paying more attention to space, and arrangement, and getting it right "at the source". In short it made me a better producer, no question about it.

    But... I had a series of epiphanies about a year ago, when I decided I wanted to have a home studio again. I got a li'l MOTU rig, and inherited a hairy old Mackie mixer to monitor through. Plus I had a couple nice analog pieces to track thru (Manley VoxBoxes and a couple Distressors).

    And the strangest thing happened. Quite frequently I'd spit tracks out across multiple outs from the MOTU, and do my mixes analog... just 'cuz I didn't have an O2R or ProControl at the house, and still wanted to grab faders. So I mixed analog, and got into doing things like submixing drums thru the Distressors, or slapping the Manley EQ's across the lead or BG vox. Well, the first time I tried to take one of my "at-home" mixes downtown, with the intent of re-doing it on the all-digi setup, I just about fell out of my chair. For the life of me, I could NOT recreate the phatness of my analog mixes at the house, done on my el cheapo Mackie. And the OUTBOARD?? Fuggedaboutit. The O2R EQ's versus my Manleys? Ha!! The Waves RenComp vs. my Distressors? Not a chance.

    I actually think, like you said, that a well-clocked DAW with decent converters on it is gonna sound pretty good. The real issue for me is what happens when I try to *mix* all in the box, withplug-insinstead of outboard. And this is what I'm trying to address by getting into a better analog console.
     
  10. erockerboy

    erockerboy Member

    OK, continuing...

    However, you also mentioned a budget of $30-50K. IMHO, you are not going to find anything in this price range to compare with the quality of say a properly clocked PTools/ProControl system with top class converters and a rack of quality outboard gear.

    This is *exactly* what I'm wondering about. I'm running my ProTools rig with AD-8000's clocked to an Aardsync II, and the combo IMO sounds pretty doggone good. I have experimented with using the Apogee A/D/A's as send-and-return interfacing for my analog outboard... Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I swear things always sound more "musical" when I do the actual mixing in analog-land.

    Now, my experimenting thus far has been with my doddering old Mackie 8-bus. Essentially I am using it as a glorified patchbay, with level control. Meaning, I use the inserts and buses to interface w/ my outboard comp/EQ's, and use the faders/pans to get my levels. I'm not using the pre's or EQ's on the Mackie at all. And yeah, some of the knobs are crackly, and there's a bit of hum on some channels 'cuz my wiring needs to be re-done. But I swear to God, my mixes still sound better to me on the stupid ol' Mackie. Believe me, I have been around the block with ProTools for the last 5 or 6 years now, and whenever I do a mix all in ProTools, (or all in the O2R's,) it just has that "digital sound"...

    and I know it's not just me, cuz most of the time, the other composers I work with are preferring their at-home mixes (done on their el cheapo Mackie/Behringer mixers) to their all-digital mixes in our "big room" downtown. Hey, I'm as surprised as anyone... I have been ProTools fan #1 around here, but the fact is - something is just MISSING when I take my analog mixes and go all-PT.

    So my thinking is, hell... if the crappy Mackie sounds better than my nice PT rig, why not spend the dough to get a *real* analog console? For $30-50K it seems like I oughtta be able to get something clean and quiet (at least, *better* than a Mackie)... especially if I don't really care about pre's, EQ's, automation, etc.

    Am I totally off my rocker?
     
  11. erockerboy

    erockerboy Member

    So what does it mean that it should "sound absoulutely shreddin'"? As in, "oh my god, it sounds like a wire with gain and sums!" or does that mean it adds nice color to the sound?

    Yah, I shoulda been more clear about this. I guess the idea is that I'm adding the color I want with outboard pieces... so the console itself ideally would be sonically fairly neutral. You know, 130dB dynamic range, flat to 300k, unmeasurable self-noise. :D So yeah, "a wire with gain and sums" is more the idea I think. But mind you, I've never mixed on any real Cadillac-type analog boards, so I don't know what I'm missing out on with a board that's maybe more 'colored'....

    Hell, I don't know what makes one summing amp sound "better" than the next one. I see guys talk about the pro's and con's of Class A, Class B, discrete vs. IC's, feedback, slew rate, whatever. I just wanna know that when I open up 32 faders, I'm still gonna hear all the details in the music.

    Anyways....

    I dug up some info on the Amek Media 51 as you suggested - definitely looks like a contender. Wonder how much of the signal path ol' Rupert N. actually designed? I have kind of a bad taste in my mouth regarding Amek consoles... my first job as a staff engineer ('bout 10 years ago), I got stuck working on a brand-new Amek Einstein. Big piece of crap. Arrived from the factory with crooked modules and busted knobs. The automation NEVER worked right - even after some poor techie from the Amek factory practically moved in with us for awhile. And sonically it was pretty uninspiring. Pre's and EQ's were vastly inferior to *any* outboard pieces we compared. But to be fair, this was a long time before the era of "Rupert Neve the designer", so who knows?

    I looked into the Audient console. The founders of that company are the guys responsible for the DDA consoles, which I've never worked on but my tech guy loves. Anyone had a chance to listen to one? I assume that Audient is more along the D&R line in terms of being "sonically neutral", yes?

    I've done a bit more digging these past few days. In general, seems like there are some decent deals to be had on "used" mid-range analog consoles, as everyone is in a mad rush to go digital it seems. The problem is, I don't know enough to separate the crap from the decent stuff out there. I've had some guys tell me that I could get what I need for $10K, and spend that extra 40 grand in my console budget for all the creamy outboard I've been lusting after. Sure I'd like to believe this, but no way do I wanna completely rewire my room and blow $10K on some hairy console, without knowing what I'm getting into.

    Ah, the drama...

    time to go unplug, and play some frickin' piano. (ACOUSTIC piano I mean.) Look ma, no wires. :D

    So what about the Oram consoles? They look real cool but I have yet to talk to anyone who's heard 'em.

    And what's up with this Daking sidecar console? Looks like it could be a monster. When's it supposed to hit the street?

    Appreciate the advice, everyone... keep it comin'.
     
  12. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    OK, a thought just occurred to me (which I've thought of before for myself, just not gonna happen this year....)

    2408, clocked with an Aardsync, with Mytek conversion (very, very neutral) and analog outboard. Now, Manley makes their purist/high headroom 16x2 mixer, and I think it lists around $6 or 7K. You may, for $20K, be able to get them to stick that mix bus and architecture into a 24 or 32 by 2 super-simple summing mixer with faders and pan. Add another 2408 or 308 and do effects sends & returns in the DAW, bused to a pair of channels. Use Waves/bomb factory/etc. stuff for the 'off' processing. I think this would rival pretty much anything made. If you wanted to stretch a little more, you may be able to stick Uptown faders in it or something, and it'd be my dream rig. :)

    Originally posted by EJolson:

    So my thinking is, hell... if the crappy Mackie sounds better than my nice PT rig, why not spend the dough to get a *real* analog console? For $30-50K it seems like I oughtta be able to get something clean and quiet (at least, *better* than a Mackie)... especially if I don't really care about pre's, EQ's, automation, etc.

    Am I totally off my rocker?[/B]
     
  13. Tony C

    Tony C Guest

    EJolson,
    Just curious, when you refer to your "crappy" Mackie do you mean an older or newer mixer (w/XDR pres, also used in the D8B). Not that I'm disagreeing with you that going through a Mackie mixer obviously doesn't even begin to rival some of the mixers you've been researching. But, I just thought I'd share a tip, if you haven't tried it (w/ a newer Mackie vlz pro). Tap the insert and bypass the channel thus using JUST the pres w/ trim. This will bring them from crappy up to level that rivals most outboard pres which cost up to ten times the amount (about a notch below most top end pres). Just an idea, on the interim before you get your next mixer.
     
  14. erockerboy

    erockerboy Member

    OK, a thought just occurred to me (which I've thought of before for myself, just not gonna happen this year....)

    2408, clocked with an Aardsync, with Mytek conversion (very, very neutral) and analog outboard. Now, Manley makes their purist/high headroom 16x2 mixer, and I think it lists around $6 or 7K. You may, for $20K, be able to get them to stick that mix bus and architecture into a 24 or 32 by 2 super-simple summing mixer with faders and pan. Add another 2408 or 308 and do effects sends & returns in the DAW, bused to a pair of channels. Use Waves/bomb factory/etc. stuff for the 'off' processing. I think this would rival pretty much anything made. If you wanted to stretch a little more, you may be able to stick Uptown faders in it or something, and it'd be my dream rig.

    Jon, you read my mind... my version of the above was a stack of AD-8000's and a Daking sidecar.

    After doing the math on a rig like this, however, I'm kinda left wondering about the price/performance thing. Let's say you get your minimalist "dream mixer" built by Manley for $20K. Or, for a few dollars more :), the Daking sidecar (if you want the discrete class-A EQ's), or the Millennia Mixing Suite.

    Essentially, you're talking in the $20K-30K range (or more) for a mixer with, presumably, minimal routing capabilities and no automation. Hmmm.

    The thing is, $20K-30K starts to get you into some pretty respectable used consoles. I just found a well-maintained Trident 80B here in town for $22K. Do the recapping and add some fader auto and pretty soon you're talking about a real console. Yeah, I know... it's not quite the "minimalist" path we were talking about. But, with auxes, fader auto and "that Trident sound" for essentially the same dough you'd spend on the glorified line mixer, it seems like a no-brainer. (unless you're looking to do a portable rig, I spoze...)

    BTW, how do ya like the Myteks vs. Apogees, Prism, DB Tech etc.? I notice they're substantially cheaper... worth a listen?
     
  15. erockerboy

    erockerboy Member

    By the way, Tony - my Mackie is an older, non-XDR 8-bus. I never use the built-in pre's anyway, altho you're right, using the inserts beats the bus outputs every time.
     

Share This Page